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Glenn BallantyneBy the time he was 19 years old, Glenn Ballantyne had written 75 songs – the first penned in 1967, the year he graduated from Central High School – and had signed to a publishing company as a songwriter, with his demonstration records garnering the attention of noted pianist Roger Williams.

Having topped a number of local and regional talent contests, and being awarded scholarships to the St. Louis Institute of Music and Phillips University, Mr. Ballantyne was still well aware that the real action was in Hollywood, where the cream of the songwriting and production crop was pumping out the hits.

So in the summer of ’69, Mr. Ballantyne ventured West to capitalize on a love of music and songwriting nurtured by Sidney Rosen, an instrumental music director at Carlile and Central, and his devoted parents: who empowered his interest through private lessons and excursions to concerts by famed ivory ticklers like Van Cliburn, Victor Borge and Max Morath.

“When I was four, I asked my parents for piano lessons and immediately began with a private teacher, Evelyn England,” Mr. Ballantyne said. “I also studied piano and music with Charles and Juanita DeHeart, and James Duncan.”

It was in elementary school that Mr. Ballantyne fell under the tutelage of Sidney Rosen, “who taught me that the discipline of music is worth loving, as well as how to play the trombone. It was from Mr. Rosen that I learned to play many styles of music and basic arranging for band and orchestra.”

One of Mr. Ballantyne’s first performances came in 1965 during a “Music Week” concert at Central, where the teen wowed spectators with a sharp trombone solo.

Shortly before departing for California and his bright-light future, Mr. Ballantyne was interviewed by a reporter from the Star-Journal/Chieftain.

“You have to live where it’s happening in this business,” Mr. Ballantyne is quoted as saying. “The way I look at it, a lot of people who get the ‘big break’ aren’t prepared for it and then fail. I’m working on fundamentals so I won’t fall short when the time comes.”

By 1971, the driven and passionate Mr. Ballantyne was under contract to Peso Music Publishing, run by W.T. “Doc” Babb, a former high school principal turned mentor to greats like Buddy Holly and original Crickets Waylon Jennings and Sonny Curtis.

It was the first significant break Mr. Ballantyne had been preparing for since he was a Wildcat.

“Doc believed in me as a songwriter and recording artist and did everything he could to help me,” Mr. Ballantyne said. “He took me to meet Waylon backstage so that I could later pitch songs to him. He took me with him to a barbecue at Sonny Curtis’ home, where I got to talk with Sonny about how he came to write ‘I Fought the Law’ and ‘Love is All Around,’ the theme from the ‘Mary Tyler Moore Show.’”

Slowly, the often tightly shuttered doors to the Hollywood music scene began to open: thanks in large part to Mr. Ballantyne’s relentless drive and a blue-collar work ethic inherited from his father, a World War II pilot who went on to establish a successful trucking line based in Pueblo.

And under that famous sign in the Hills began a relentless cycle of writing, recording and then pitching songs: the typical “Hollywood hustle.” His persistence and devotion to the craft continued to pay dividends for Mr. Ballantyne, who went on to sign as a songwriter and recording artist with producer “Snuff” Garrett – notable for his work with Sonny and Cher and Dell Shannon -- and Bell Records. 

As he worked his way into the business, Mr. Ballantyne brushed paths with some of the most recognizable names in the industry: Jimmy Webb, the writer of the biggest hits by Glenn Campbell and the Fifth Dimension; Liberace; Fabian; Don Williams; and, most infamously, Janet: the girlfriend of the legendary but unhinged record producer Phil Spector.

Glenn Ballantyne and Tommy Boyce

A chance – and much more amiable meeting – on the Sunset Strip would prove to be a pivotal moment not only in Mr. Ballantyne’s songwriting career, but his life.

In 1967, while Mr. Ballantyne was still a Wildcat, the Monkees were the hottest thing going. This was due in large part to the talents of songwriters Bobby Hart and Tommy Boyce, who were writing and producing for the television band turned musical phenomenon.

“Last Train to Clarksville?” That’s Boyce and Hart, as are “(Theme from) ‘The Monkees,’” “Come a Little Bit Closer” (Jay and the Americans) and “Hurt So Bad” (Little Anthony and the Imperials.)

“Boyce and Hart’s songs were being recorded by nearly everyone, and they even had a Top 10 song on their own,” Mr. Ballantyne said. “The were the coolest of the cool.”

While making cold calls on music publishers in the heart of Hollywood during a break in his college studies, Mr. Ballantyne spotted Bobby Hart and Tommy Boyce in a street café. Starry-eyed and brimming with verve, the 18-year-old from Pueblo wasn’t about to let this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity pass.

“I calculated how to arrive at the cash register at the same time they would,” Mr. Ballantyne said. “My plan was to casually compliment them on one of their album cuts.”

Compliment accepted, the songwriting duo took little time figuring out that that Mr. Ballantyne was himself a crafter of music hoping to get his career off the ground.

“With kindness and grace, they offered to set up a meeting with their music publisher,” Mr. Ballantyne said. “They did as they promised, and it got me a break of a lifetime. Not only did I have the ear of a hot Hollywood publisher, I had access to the interior hallways of the Boyce and Hart offices where Monkees came in and out.”

Inspired by this happenstance meeting he termed “a miracle,” Mr. Ballantyne did everything in his power to take advantage of the opportunities afforded him.

“It was such a thrill when I got word that Bobby Vinton was recording a song Bobby Hart helped me write,” Mr. Ballantyne said. “I felt like I was one of the Hollywood ‘in crowd’ when Bobby and I drove to Vinton’s ivy-covered estate overlooking the Pacific Ocean to discuss lyric changes.”

In Tinseltown, it truly is about who you know.

“I enjoyed how Hollywood acknowledged people who simply knew somebody famous,” Mr. Ballantyne said. “So I made sure everyone knew that I wrote songs with Bobby Hart – at his home – and that I could call him any time.”

Between 1971 and 1979, Mr. Ballantyne was a signed songwriter and producer of demonstration recordings for Metromedia Music and New York Times Music. His songs were recorded by such luminaries as Jim Nabors, Jackie DeShannon, Roger Williams, The Ovations, Nancy Wayne and everyone’s favorite TV kids, The Brady Bunch.

“My songs are like friends who shared a specific time of life with me,” he said. “The music business improved my life professionally and financially, but even more significantly, the people and experiences enriched my very existence in never-ending, various and sometimes totally unexpected ways.”

Like Bobby Hart, Mr. Ballantyne found in legendary radio personality Casey Kasem a fervent supporter.

“Casey liked my songs: even the ones that didn’t get high enough on the charts to be on his show,” Mr. Ballantyne said. “Casey and I became friends and he and his wife Linda would invite me to their home.”

Psychedelic Bubble Gum Book CoverNo relationship, however, topped the one that Mr. Ballanytne formed with Bobby Hart. 

In addition to the ins-and-outs of “The Biz,” Mr. Ballantyne learned something much more significant and life-changing from his spiritually inclined mentor: “that success is measured by how my inner peace and mental control enable me to be calm and joyful under all circumstances,” Mr. Ballantyne explained. 

To this day, the two remain dear friends, with Mr. Ballantyne contributing to “Psychedelic Bubble Gum,” Bobby Hart’s best-selling memoir.

Additionally, Mr. Hart selected his friend’s hometown in which to debut the fantastic Boyce and Hart documentary “The Guys Who Wrote ‘Em,” and a jointly authored book on yoga is expected to be released next year.

In the mid-70s, Mr. Ballantyne was invited to be a guest artist with the Colorado Springs Symphony to perform his own songs. And for the 1977 summer season, the Colorado Council of the Arts and Humanities hired him as musical director for the 150-person “Chautauqua” touring troupe.

Through all the success and glamor that is show business – few people can boast about hanging out with Monkee Mickey Dolenz at the Grammy Awards and watching Zsa Zsa Gabor prepare for a high-end Vegas show – Mr. Ballantyne remained a Puebloan devoted to his family and community.

In 1978, Mr. Ballantyne’s father unexpectedly passed away. Without hesitation, he left Los Angeles and returned home to assist his mother in the running of the family trucking business, which operated in 5 states.

“My brother Ray also came home to help,” Mr. Ballantyne said. “Ray and I took control and also drove trucks every day, just as our Dad did.”

A year later, the business was sold. Ray returned to his job as an air traffic controller and Mr. Ballantyne prepared for a return to the West Coast and his songwriting career.

“But J. Ralph Carter, at the time a radio station manager, encouraged me to stick around,” Mr. Ballantyne said. “He was so confident that he could sell jingles if I’d write and record them that he quit his job.

“We gave it a try, and it worked.”

And so began the second chapter in Mr. Ballantyne’s career as a creator.

“J. Ralph and I had so much fun working from our houses, dressed in T-shirts and faded jeans,” Mr. Ballantyne said. “One week, we’d drive together in my 1967 Corvette, selling jingles, returning a couple of weeks later after I had recorded them in Los Angeles. 

“We’d leave our happy jingle clients, deposit our earnings and then hit the Dairy Queen for a celebration Peanut Butter Parfait.”

The partnership/friendship was a fruitful one, as the jingle business continued to blossom. Before long, the pair opened a full service advertising and public relations firm.

In 1985, it was named one of the best businesses in the state by Colorado Business magazine.

And the creative juices continued to flow.

In addition to award-winning video and experiential learning course productions, Mr. Ballantyne wrote “Friends for Life,” the theme song for a Morris Animal Foundation documentary narrated by Betty White. Together with renowned actor and environmentalist Dennis Weaver, he launched an Earthship Greenhouse at Haaff Elementary School.

For the Fountain Creek Foundation, Mr. Ballantyne created a 30-minute PBS episode entitled “Fourteen 2 Four,” which follows Fountain Creek from its source on Pikes Peak to the confluence with the Arkansas River during all four seasons.

Most recently, he partnered with Pueblo School District 60 and the City and County in the Gateway to the Southwest Project, which saw the creative input of the Minnequa Lil’ Cats translate into an eye-catching mural and, naturally, a very catchy jingle, sung by vocalists from South High School and the Pueblo Children’s Chorale.

Today, Mr. Ballantyne continues to happily traverse the creative path that began all those years ago in the halls and classrooms of Central High School through his Kreativo Agency and roles as an author, motivational speaker, fundraiser, community advocate, yoga practitioner and meditation teacher.

In all, Mr. Ballantyne’s award-winning marketing agency and has raised $800 million for non-profits like libraries, children treatment centers, and facilities for abused animals.

“My time at Central played a very important part in my life,” he said. “I had teachers, classes and programs that really fostered creativity, individuality, striving for excellence, and encouragement for overcoming obstacles. 

“There was a strong continuity among the teachers, who stayed connected to each other and discussed what best benefitted the students.”

As it turned out, being a Wildcat was nothing short of music to Mr. Ballantyne’s ears.